I have a friend who has an insatiable passion for chocolate. Being originally from Belgium, and having spent a lifetime learning about food, Geneviève now applies her knowledge to both food and the making of artisanal chocolates, which are sold at Coffee Bites in Brooklyn. She also hosts a very exclusive, annual party in New York City devoted to chocolate in all forms. Sweet, savory, and salty can all be found, and each year I look forward to her new creations with unbridled anticipation.
Last year’s visit introduced me to a recipe that has now become a staple of autumnal cuisine in my kitchen: Chocolate Chili. Now, this isn’t anything like your average chili. It’s autumnal in a way and reminds me of all the things I love about fall and the holidays. The allspice and cinnamon mixed with the cocoa give it a depth of flavor that you only experience when eating the finest dark chocolate. The chipotle takes on a spicy sweetness that is tantalizing on the palate and leaves behind a pleasant amount of heat on the finish. Each bite is just as good as the first and the texture is amazing. As I tested this recipe, I found that the most difficult thing about it was stopping myself from eating it right then and there.
The craziest part about this recipe is how insanely simple it is to make, yet how sinfully delicious it is to eat. When you read it, you may be tempted to add conventional chili preparations, but I urge you to fight that temptation and try it just as it is. Make sure to make this a day in advance to let the flavors truly come together overnight.
Geneviève's Chocolate Chili
1 quart water
2 pounds lean raw ground beef
2 large onions, small dice
2 (6-ounce oz.) cans tomato paste
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper (The chili is not too hot, but you can cut this in half if you want less heat.)
3 tbls. chili powder
½ tsp. chipotle powder
2-½ tsp salt
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp cider vinegar
3 bay leaves
2 ½ tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
60 grams 60% - 70% dark chocolate - chopped
2 tbls fresh chopped parsley or cilantro
Have all of your ingredients measured out before you begin.
1. Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat, add the water ground beef and onions. With a spoon, break up the beef as the water comes up to a boil. It’s important for the beef to be completely broken up.
2. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add all the ingredients from the second additions list, combine completely and return the pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer (uncovered) and set your timer for 2 1/2 hours.
3. Throughout this time, make sure to stir the mixture every 15 to 20 minutes. If the chili sticks to the bottom of the pan, lower the heat.
4. When there are 30 minutes left on the timer (after two hours cooking), take a small pot and fill 1/3 of it with water. Place a metal bowl over the pot and turn the flame under this pot to the lowest setting (thus creating a double boiler). Be careful, as the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.
5. When there are about 15 minutes left on the timer (after 2 1/4 hours cooking), add the chopped chocolate to the bowl. Stir constantly and keep the chocolate from the sides or it may burn. Once the chocolate has melted completely, remove the bowl from the pot and place to the side.
6. Turn off the flame under the chili, and pour the melted chocolate into the pot. Stir to combine. Taste the chili and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
7. To serve, prepare a plate with sour cream and tortilla chips. Ladle a healthy dose of chili onto the plate and garnish with your choice of chopped parsley or cilantro. Clean the rims of your plates with a warm moist towel and serve.